Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Weymouth Weekend

Report on the SWSW weekend in Weymouth - by Roger Adams
The weekend started early with the desperados of SWSW gathering in Portland jail, not for a few minutes of association before being led back to the cells but for Friday lunch in the Jailhouse Cafe. The food was excellent, the service was great the value for money second to none.

After lunch, we all gathered outside Portland museum for a walk to the southernmost tip of Portland Bill and back. En-route, five people spent 25 minutes learning all about the activities of the coastguard station whilst the rest of us headed for the café by the lighthouse. The visibility was good such that the views both towards St Aldhelm’s Head, some 20 miles to the east and to Exmouth, some 40 miles to the west were stunning. The day was rounded off with dinner in one of the many quayside eateries in Weymouth.

The strong winds of Friday were still blowing as we set off for the Saturday walk from Abbotsbury, an attractive village well known to tourists. The initial route took us via the church and the remains of an ancient monastery to St Catherine’s Chapel, perched on a small hill just outside Abbotsbury and visible for miles around. Then came the main event; a stiff climb out of the village to the South Dorset Ridgeway where we followed the route west to West Bexington, passing an iron age hill fort and burial mounds on the way. Sadly, we didn’t quite make the watering hole before one of the rain showers arrived. However, the rain passed quickly and folk were able to dry off in the sun before the next shower arrived. After lunch we returned to the one of tearooms at Abbotsbury (one that had been thoroughly reconnoitred by Lesley on a number of occasions) via the South West Cost Path. The cream teas and cakes of Abbotsbury were an appropriate prelude for the pizza and pies that we consumed later at one of Weymouth’s chic restaurants situated above the harbour master’s office.

Sunday’s weather started overcast but very quickly the sky turned blue and the sun shone brightly. The wind of the previous two days had gone and we enjoyed a very pleasant stroll to the Smugglers pub at Osmington Mills. From the path along this part of the coast we could clearly see Portland harbour and the ships anchored in Weymouth Bay as well as the surrounding hills to the north.  Fortified with tea, cake and alcohol, we returned to Weymouth before most people set off for Surrey, hopefully ahead of the mad rush back to the smoke that characterises Sunday evening on the roads.

In summary, there were three excellent walks that gave a good view of the coastal scenery of west Dorset, lots of good food and great company. Many thanks must go to Lesley for leading the walks, all her hard work in making this trip the success it was and for arranging weather that was perfect – apart from the Saturday showers! 
St Catherine's Chapel
 Portland Head Across Weymouth Bay 

Gathered By The Monument On Portland Head

Lunch in The Smugglers Inn, Osmington.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Isle Of Wight

Walk Diary Sat 4th June

Ten of us arrived at Ryde on a lovely sunny day to meet Alison Bright who was our leader for the day making eleven in total.

We boarded a local train to Brading station to start the 7 mile circular walk after having coffee etc. unfortunately just a few minutes after starting the walk one of our party tripped and injured their ankle and had to make their way back home, which Alison very kindly organised with the help of the cafe at Brading station.

The rest of us continued on to Bembridge windmill, led by Roger Smith, through Brading Marshes. Once there we enjoyed a picnic and a look at the National Trust windmill. From there we carried on to White Cliff bay and descended to the beach, where the braver of us paddled while we waited for Alison to re-join us.

We then walked on to Culver Down which was a fairly steep climb, but well worth it for the excellent views.  Here some went to the pub for a drink in the garden, whilst others enjoyed a cup of tea at the local cafe. We then made our way back to Brading station and on to Ryde where a few of stayed to enjoy fish and chips before catching the ferry home.

All in all it was a lovely relaxing day and varied walk so thank you to Alison for arranging it.

Lunch At The Windmill

Paddling At The Beach
A Day At The Beach!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Frensham Ponds

Walk Diary Sunday 15th May

12 members including a first time walker with SWSW and four legged friend Sky enjoyed a 5 1/2 mile walk from Frensham Little pond. It's been a while since the group walked in this pleasant area, the terrain was mixed mostly easy going heathland and woodland.
The pond is especially lovely at this time of year with a good variety of bird life gearing up for spring. Excellent panoramic views were admired following a short steep climb up the Devil's Jumps - I hope everyone has forgiven me!

As the weather was good The National Trust café on the edge of the pond made a nice lunch stop.


Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Lovelace Bridges

Sunday 1st May

13 of us enjoyed a good walk through Sheepleas on a sunny 1st May. The scenery was lovely, with large areas of Bluebells to be admired by all, and of course the famous Lovelace Bridges. Some of us lunched at Gomshall Mill, and others at the cafe in Gomshall. Our thanks to Margo and John for leading this picturesque and interesting walk, and to Shirley for the photos.

Janet and Lynne

One Of The Surviving Bridges

Bluebells in Profusion

A Sunny Coffee-Break

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Spanish Walks From Port Du Soller.

Well, I'm sure you will be pleased to hear we had a very pleasant holiday in Mallorca. The weather was kind, with mostly sunny days and good walking temperatures, around 20 deg C. The facilities and food at the Hotel were up to the usual H.F. standard, and many of the buffet style meals had a distinct Spanish and local Mallorcan flavour.

The mountains and scenery were spectacular, with heights up to 3,600 feet to be climbed, and also descended back down to sea level.  Fortunately we started half way up on that climb, and the view from the top of that mountain was splendid, but the descent, down a route called "The Pilgrim Steps", contained at least 1800 steps, and nearly finished me off! Luckily the next day was our day off, and we went for a tram/train ride to Palma, and a gentle stroll around.

The terrain was in many ways similar to the previous trip to Parcent on the Spanish mainland 3 years ago. The local rock was limestone again, and the hillsides had been terraced everywhere you looked. There was an extensive network of trails linking the pretty local villages together, routed around the remote terraces.  However, some of the tracks were quite rough, with some steep drop-offs to add a touch of excitement. We had views of the sea at least some of the time, but if not, we had ancient gnarly olive trees to look at, punctuated by the sound of sheep dressed with cow bells.

Here a few pictures, to give a bit more flavour:-

Lunch at the top of L'Offre (3600 ft), before the descent down the Pilgrim Steps.
The Pilgrim Steps, and Tony, beside a stream, currently dry.
Looking down over a least four zigs and zags of track on The Pilgrim Steps! 
Looking down over the bay at Deia, where they filmed some scenes in a restaurant for The Night Manager.
A brief rest for some of the SWSW gang.

A view of part of the track on  excellent walk along the coast, without too much up or down!

A sunny morning, strolling around Port Du Soller.

A view over the bay at Port Du Soller.

A typical view in one of the many villages we passed through.  All were tidy and neat, with a variety of bars and restaurants for passing travellers.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Thames and Hampton Court Place grounds.

Walk Report for Sunday the 20 March

15 of us set out from the Molesey Cricket Ground car park in cool weather. Our route took us along the Thames past the Lock to Hampton Court. We were joined by 4,000 half marathon runners at Hampton Court going along the riverside to Kingston. So we had to be on our best behaviour for all the supporters!

Arriving at Kingston Bridge we were serenaded by a Rock Choir (although in truth it was for the runners not us). We headed back through Home Park in peace and quiet arriving at the now locked gates in to the Palace Grounds. Apparently this earlier than scheduled summer closure (to now be permanent) is a major irritation for the local park users. However we easily overcame this obstacle by going out of the side gate and back in to the Grounds by the ornate gates. The display of spring flowers in the grounds was appreciated by all before we arrived at the Bridge. From there various parties split off in search of lunch, the Cricket Ground Cafe being a favourite. The walk of 5.5 miles took us about 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Shamley Green

Walk Report 6th March

With the weather set fair 14 of us started from picturesque Shamley Green heading out of the village to join the Greensands Way. We followed this for some distance before branching off along Downs Link which follows the course of an old railway.
We later trekked across country passing a number of ancient and delightful cottages and farmsteads, taking in great views of the distant hills then skirting the Wintershall Estate before returning to our start point by way of Birtley House. We were a month or so too soon for the bluebells, although the eagle eyed botanists amongst us managed to spot one or two early specimens.
Unusually for Surrey we encountered only one small hill and surprisingly little mud on our route. As it was Mother’s Day the local pubs were likely to be too busy to accommodate us all for lunch, but three of us enjoyed excellent light lunches at The Snooty Fox Cafe in Shalford to round off a very pleasant morning.